Let’s be honest. The Christian life is hard, and sometimes we wonder if following God is really worth it. How much does it matter that we abide by God’s principles as we navigate our days, months, and years? There’s got to be a larger reason for choosing to follow God, something more than just being “a good little Christian girl” or “a good little Christian boy”, right?
As we take a look at the last chapters of God’s final book of the Bible, we’re finding out that God DOES INDEED have more – much more – in store for those who follow Him.
…I will freely give to the thirsty from the spring of the water of life. The one who conquers will inherit these things, and I will be his God, and he will be my son.
Inheritance is conditional – it is based upon the choices a person makes in the life they live after they have accepted Christ’s free gift of eternal life. Knowing this, the next question we need to answer is this:
Since a conqueror is the one who inherits, who are the Christians that God refers to as “the one who conquers”?
The Greek word for conquer is nikao. In ancient Greece, it was a verb that meant to overcome or overpower; to conquer or triumph. In legal terms, it meant “to win one’s case”. The verb was used to describe winners of athletic contests. It was also used in reference to the victorious ruling Caesars. When used in its noun-form, the word nike means victory. It was also the name of a Greek goddess, who was often represented in art as a symbol of personal superiority. In our modern days, not only is “Nike” a clothing and shoe brand, but the company’s marketed identity purposely conveys an overcoming, victorious attitude.
So, to be a conqueror is to be victorious over any task, obstacle, or arena you are in…and thus have the right to claim the victor’s spoils. This definition fits in perfectly with what we have learned about a believer’s potential inheritance in the New Jerusalem. Since inheritance is conditional, those that obtain it are those who have lived a victorious life in Christ.
Paul used similar language as he encouraged the believers at Corinth.
1 Corinthians 9:24-25
Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we [do it to receive] an imperishable crown.
Paul says we should be striving for a crown that lasts forever…and in Revelation 21:7, we are told what the prize is for the one who conquers – it is the right to inherit in the New Jerusalem.
Making wise choices now, living victoriously for Christ through whatever circumstances we face, overcoming the obstacles that are trying to pry us away from our relationship with God…these are the actions that will make us – by God’s definition – one who conquers.